In today’s article, we want to dig into the literature and discuss historical and contemporary issues concerning the narrative of people with disabilities today. We are going to sound a little formal. The knowledge would be mostly research-based.
Members of the disabled community are almost always a minority in whatever locale they inhabit. People with disabilities struggle with high unemployment rates, low access to education, and difficulty engaging within their larger, non-disabled communities.
Poor accessibility has historically been one of the challenges facing the community of the disabled.
PWDs and the Larger Society a Century Ago
Long, long ago, children and individuals who had a disability were considered plagues—people with epidemic and highly contagious diseases who needed only to be quarantined and made separate from the mainstream society.
No one— not the government or civil societies wanted to have anything to do with people with disabilities. Rather than allow children to enroll at educational institutions, including social and religious societies for intellectual and social-cultural development, people with disabilities were held down in a secluded, impoverished state, chained and looked upon as people like those of time bombs waiting to go off any moment.
These barbaric, ignorant practices had continued for many decades from the start of the 18th century until the middle of the 19th century when religious organizations and missionaries began to take responsibility for people with disabilities.
PWDS in Modern Time
Today, no doubt—thanks to the unprecedented efforts of various civil organizations, disability advocates, disability researchers, and educationists, the dynamics have greatly changed, and more and more persons with disabilities across the World are now being armed with the equipment and machinery to compete with fairness, to determine their destiny under a more transparent, more inclusive governments and societies around the world.
Our society has been awestruck by the swelling amount of disabled people around the world, including in Nigeria—deaf, blind, and physically challenged individuals who are vying for political offices. We have been fascinated by the grit and determination of disabled political candidates in Nigeria who want to make communities around the country better.
Several members of the disabled community have watched and listened to the hearts and minds of people with disabilities who aren’t just gunning for leadership roles, but individuals who are possessing advanced degrees in universities in Nigeria and abroad, and are living incredibly dignified socially-healthy lives. It is incredible, given the history of people with disabilities, including the hardships they have had to endure to get to this level playing field.
Today, there are still more ways to go. While we are highly impressed by the life of all persons with disabilities across the world, particularly in Nigeria—of how they have evolved since the last many decades and of how they have overcome tremendous obstacles of their own to become persons who are changing the course of history.
Taking Pleasure in Today’s Progress of the Disabled Community
We have the great pleasure to mark this era with all people with disabilities in Nigeria to yet a future of limitless possibilities. Aside from the many disability-friendly policies and programs that have been put into place by this government, yet, we firmly believe that we have unprecedented roles to play in instituting a more equal, more inclusive, accessible operating environment for all people with disabilities in Nigeria who aspire for a life of dignity regardless of their status or station.
We are aware that with slight changes in our priorities, we can give voice to the voiceless, sight to the blindfolded, and a pathway to a better life for all. We are determined to institute more initiatives that provide access for the disabled: Quality, affordable education for all, conducive learning and operating environment, more inclusive and transparent policies.
Increasing Personal Competitiveness for the Disabled
In a fast-paced world that has become a highly innovative economy—away from the long-existing industrial economy, there is nothing more important than for all persons with disabilities in our nation to be equipped with more and more practical knowledge and information about the dynamics in the world around them.
Today, it seems to be the more information, knowledge, and skillsets you have, the better off your life is going to be. However, more importantly, more access to opportunities we have. People with disabilities are encouraged to avail themselves of the vast opportunities that today’s world presents—quality information, access to communications technology, and a chance to think and act independently—because you have an understanding of the dynamics of the world around you. The more knowledge and information we have, the more balanced a life we can lead.
This moment in history is a great one for the disabled in the country. We have evolved, but there are still more ways to go, particularly for the members of the disabled community. While the administration will continue to be the bellwether of the trajectory of the disabled, we continue to be adamant that the future of our world, in terms of the social, economic, cultural, and institutional life of the disabled, is going to be determined largely by our capacity to band together, to form interlocking clusters of efforts and creativities of people and organizations to learn to take advantage that this information age presents.
I certainly see a very significant association between not just the policies of a government, but as well as the attitude of people to self-improvement ad self-development and national productivity in a great number of contexts.